Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rhode Island comes to Fern Forest


I'm always amazed when people ask to stay in the treehouse in the middle of winter, but Suzanne and Patrick are used to roughing it. They've slept in a water tower in Mendicino and in a sugarhouse in southern Vermont. Patrick's a big guy and by his own admission generates a lot of heat, which is good because Suzanne is as tiny as a little bird and it was plenty cold their first night in the treehouse.

Patrick runs a CSA in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, supervising the vegetable fields in warmer weather and tending the animals in winter. Suzanne is an art therapist who appreciates nature's aesthetic beauty. They had no problem with our tricky driveway in their huge SUV, which they rented for the trip. They're the kind of folks who said no to a red Mercedes SUV because it was too showy and went with the black Ford Explorer for the same price. Me? I'd have flashed that Mercedes right up to the treehouse...but that's another story.

I met Suzanne and Patrick at the Bobcat, where H was showing them the local color at the bar. After they'd feasted on chef's specials, they came back to the house for a nightcap and some good conversation. We discovered that Patrick went to school with Colleen, a previous guest, who recommended the treehouse to him, and Suzanne's mom went to Suffolk Law School, where my son Bryant also attended. Six degrees of separation?

The couple slept right through the first night in the treehouse and the next day, after a bountiful continental breakfast, headed up Mount Abe on snowshoes. We'd had some fresh powder, and they enjoyed a couple hours playing in it. That afternoon H and I had business in Burlington and left them to sample the famous garlic soup at Mary's Restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek in Bristol. When H and I returned at 10:00 p.m., they were tucked in the treehouse with lights out.

In the morning I served fresly baked apple-cranberry-walnut bread and baby portabella mushroom quiche, after which they patted their stomachs. Before they checked out, Patrick presented us with four fat breakfast sausages from Casey Farm piggies, which delighted H. They don't come any sweeter than Patrick and Suzanne, and we were sorry to see them leave. On the other hand, we just might take them up on the invitation to visit them in Rhode Island. Patrick said he'd put us up in Casey Farm's corn crib.

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